Southampton Street and Tavistock Street Area: The Cecil Estate

Survey of London: Volume 36, Covent Garden. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1970.

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'Southampton Street and Tavistock Street Area: The Cecil Estate', in Survey of London: Volume 36, Covent Garden, (London, 1970) pp. 223. British History Online [accessed 24 April 2024]

The Cecil Estate

The property owned by the Cecil family on the north side of the Strand was acquired by Sir William Cecil in the second half of the sixteenth century, partly from the second Earl of Bedford (fn. 1) and partly from other sources. (fn. 2) It lay between a row of houses belonging to the Earls of Bedford (on part of the site of Friars Pyes) on the west and the White Hart Inn, which was owned by Brasenose College, Oxford, on the east. One of the houses acquired by Cecil was enlarged for his own occupation, and a smaller dwelling house was added on its east side for the use of his second son, Sir Robert Cecil. (fn. 3) After Sir William's elevation to the peerage Cecil House became known as Burleigh or Burghley House, and subsequently, when his elder son Thomas became Earl of Exeter, as Exeter House.

In 1671, whilst negotiations were in progress for the making of Catherine Street on the site of the White Hart (see page 35), John, Lord Burghley, son of the fourth Earl of Exeter, petitioned the King for a licence to build over the site of Exeter and Little Exeter House. His scheme (Plate 10) provided for an east-west street parallel with the Strand and linked to it by two north-south streets, one of which was intended to communicate northwards with Charles Street. This plan was approved and a licence was granted to Lord Burghley in 1673. (fn. 4) The main east-west street was built and called Exeter Street, but only one of the two north-south streets was made, and is now the southern arm of Burleigh Street. The other intended communication between Charles Street and the Strand was not built in 1673, probably because of the resistance offered by the fifth Earl of Bedford (see pages 35–6). It was eventually made by the Commissioners of Woods, Forests and Land Revenues in 1833–5 and called Wellington Street.


  • 1. P.R.O., C 54/571, no. 30; E/BER, Muniment of Title, Middlesex, bundle E, nos. 1–3; Northamptonshire Record Office, Burghley House MSS., 5/21.
  • 2. Burghley House MSS., 5/19, 25/1.
  • 3. Hatfield House, Cecil Family and Estate Papers, deed 184/5.
  • 4. Burghely House MSS., 13/1.